Review: 13 Reasons Why – Jay Asher


1217100Published: October 2007
Genre: fiction, contemporary / Young Adult

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever. 

I picked the book up for the first time back when it came out but for some reason, I only read the first casette. It’s not that I wasn’t enjoying it, but I just didn’t pick it up again and then just of forgot about it and put it on hold. A couple of months ago, and given the Netflix adaptation, it brought the book back to my attention and I had it in my radar, and decided to give it a chance.

I’m not going to lie, I did enjoyed the book, but I was also disappointed; it was just not what I expected. I didn’t have particular expectations about it, even though everybody seemed to love it and think it was such a shocking and needed read. It wasn’t any of that for me.

I liked a lot of things, like the format of the book. From the synopsis, or if you’ve read the book, you know that our main character, Clay, receives a bunch of casettes, 13 in total, from a girl from his school who had committed suicide. Consequently, and cleverly, the book is divided like that, by casettes, and it alternates between Hannah’s narration (the girl from the tapes) to Clay. Having thirteen tapes was also a nice touch. Thirteen is said to be the number for bad luck /though for me it’s good luck), so it seemed appropiate she recorded 13 tapes. And given the nature of the book, I figured I could listen to it on audiobook, which was a great experience since there are two narrators, one for Clay and then one for Hannah, which made me invested in the story and easier for me to follow.

As I mentioned, the book is told through the recordings but also through Clay’s point of view while listening to the tapes. I liked the idea of having his reactions and his opinions about what we were listening to, but I wasn’t very happy with the outcome. Especially at the beginning I felt like his parts were unnecessary; I imagined I would get a better view of what had happened thanks to the dual point of view, but basically, it was just him wondering where he could go to listen to the tapes. Which is what I imagined the others did, and it’s what I was doing. I liked, however, how he did not spoiled his part in the tapes, or any of the story, moreover, it kept me uessing about what it was, but I felt like his parts contributed nothing to me (again, mostly at the beginning, later on, his parts were more interesting).

Then we have the plot, the book itself. I feel bad or like it’s wrong to say it disappointed me, but it did. I expected more; more drama, more twists and just more. And yes, I feel like saying that is completely wrong, because you can’t never say something like that is not enough or valid; I’m not saying that, what I mean is that given the buzz, hype and polemics surrounding this book,  I expected the resolution to be different,but it wasn’t,  it was “lighter” which was also realistic. Of course, that’s not always the case, but I’m referring to the book as a whole, in general.

Let’s talk a bit about Clay and Hannah. For the most part of the book, I didn’t know how to feel about Clay, partly because he was just there. He could be very judgy and mean and the completely nice and sweet (everybody said how he was such a good person, which I didn’t exactly always see) and that confused me. The part that shocked me most about his character was how he suddenly was in love with Hannah, like where did that love come from? I expected that in the story, for him to be in love with Hannah, but we got no indication of that for the first part of the book and then suddenly he kept saying things about how he would have been there for Hannah if she had just asked because he liked her and bla bla bla. Really? Then why were you acting so cold until now? Why didn’t you react differenly? (I’m not saying he should have cried or done something).

And following my statement about him being judgy I wanted to mentioned something that caught my attention. Not necessarily as a critique to Clay, but something a lot of people assume and I needed to address (I wish I could have saved the quote): Hannah should have gone to a therapist. Sure, that could have helped her, but the key word is “could”.  I’ve gone to some therapist and let me just tell you, they haven’t worked for me. Of course, everyone is different and every experience is too, but . Depression is not as easy as a headache, there’s no formula for it, you cannot take a pill and then be cured. It’s a process, and it requires a lot of time, effort, help and assistance. Like, a lot. Andy, why does he assume she didn’t? Why does he assume that would have changed anything?

Now this paragraph will contain one spoiler, because I need to talk about acertain part of the book, which is related to the following quote:

Then one of the girls, her name doesn’t matter here, said what everyone else was thinking. “It’s like whoever wrote this note just wants attention. If they were serious, they would have told us who they were.”

REALLY? A little bit of context: in class they had like a little box of confessions where they put things they want to discuss, so Hannah, near the end of the book, and when she was down, wrote a note saying she was considering suicide. I was happy that part was included but not excited about how it was handled. Sure, Hannah tackled the issue about that, but she was the only one who did. Not Clay (not especially), not the other students, and not even the teacher. This is “just” a quote, but one that I feel speaks about one of my critiques: the book tackles important topics and doesn’t shy from it but sometimes those do nothing to change standards people have about suicide, depression or rape. It exposes and judges other topics, sure, like privacy and bullying, but I feel like if you want to talk about such heavy topics, you can’t just mention them and expect your readers to know what’s right and wrong, because sadly, some don’t.

No more spoilers here.

In short, Thirteen Reasons Why is an important read that opens a lot of discussions, for which I’m very grateful, but the enjoyment of it, the resolution and the story itself was a lot more different than I expected and it didn’t particularly touched me or flood me with emotions.   iHowever, I was glad to have read it and most importantly, glad it was written so that people could talk about it.

What about you, have you read Thirteen Reasons Why? Do you agree with my points? Did you enjoy it? And the tv show, have you watched it? Would you recommend it?



4 thoughts on “Review: 13 Reasons Why – Jay Asher

  1. Sophie @ Blame Chocolate says:

    I haven’t read it or plan to but I really enjoyed reading your review. It’s just something I’m not into and would probably end up very depressed! But I agree that it’s an important read and a subject that needs to be addressed more often.
    Great post! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anna - Reader and Proud says:

      I thought it would be a difficult read for me and I’d end up DNF it, but it didn’t get to me as much as I thought. Even though I didn’t love it, I appreciate it and love how it addresses such important topics. Now I can watch the netflix series; have you watched it?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sophie @ Blame Chocolate says:

        Hmm not yet and again, not planning to 😅 I’ve heard it’s quite graphic and doesn’t leave much to the imagination, so I pass. But I really hope you like it! 😊
        People either seem to love it or hate it, which shows just how controversial it is. I’m glad this sort of subject is getting so much attention, though. Maybe now people will start taking it more seriously and help prevent it, rather than pretend it doesn’t exist.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Anna - Reader and Proud says:

          I thought, but preferred to ask just in case. I’m still not convinced about the tv show, so I might wait a bit to start it. But agagin, I do like how it opens those conversations and people are debating and talking about such importand topics. And, as you said, I hope they take it more seeriously, and can see that those things are a reality for a lot of people and shouldn’t be ignored.

          Liked by 1 person

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